Saturday - Two 4 hour Workshops

Social Schizophrenia: Building a Brand WITHOUT Losing Your Mind

Kristen Lamb

In the digital age, it is impossible to sell books—or anything—without first creating and establishing a brand.

But there are so many voices, conflicting opinions, and how do we know which ones to listen to? Often we lose sense of what we’re doing or even why. We’re fractured, confused, and paralyzed with anxiety because we can’t seem to get a solid footing in a world that shifts and changes daily.

TRUTH: The simplest and most cost-effective way to build a brand is by using social media.

Correction. Using social media WELL.

There are a ton of options.

Facebook, blogging, Pinterest and OMG! INSTAGRAM!
*head explodes*

Authors are tasked with creating the brand (YOU+ BOOKS) then cultivating a thriving, enthusiastic fan base eager to be part of our success…oh, and we have to keep writing books. Most authors already have a full-time job. Then, writing is at least another full-time if not at least part-time job. Do we really want to add SEO expert, marketer, promoter, advertising expert, and on-line data analyst to to the list of jobs as well?

All authors need a brand, so this class teaches how to locate and cultivate your audience into passionate fans who BUY YOUR BOOKS! How can you grow your platform and turn your name alone into a bankable asset? Not as hard as you might have been led to believe. You DO NOT need to be a tech guru/mega-high-pressure-sales person to excel at this. In fact, best you aren’t. Yet, the reality is that in the digital age of commerce, consumers rely on brands more than ever in human history. They’re overwhelmed and we can help them out….by finding US. Consumers (which is code for readers) buy from who they know, like and trust. In a sea of infinite choices a powerful NAME is a tremendous asset. Can you say James Patterson? The single largest challenge all writers face in the digital age is discoverability and connecting with our audience is a challenge but nothing we can’t handle.

This class will address:

  • What is a brand? How to make one uniquely your own.
  • How to BE YOU! You’re a writer, not an insurance salesman!
  • Harness your imagination & creativity for better results (No one likes SPAM, so don’t serve it!).
  • How to use this information to locate, engage and cultivate an audience.
  • Myths about exposure.
  • Common scams that will wreck your brand and earning ability.
  • Why most promotion is a waste of money.
  • A list of expensive and not-so-bright ideas for reaching readers.
  • Knowing when and HOW to promote.

***And YES, we will address INSTAGRAM.

Overall this class is about working smarter not harder. This class is to teach you to think strategically so all energy is focused. Sure, we have to hustle, but why not hustle and there be an AUTHENTIC PAYDAY for all that hard work?

Understanding the Antagonist: How to Write Novels Readers CANNOT Put Down

Kristen Lamb

First, all fiction must have a core antagonist. No opposition, no story. The core antagonist (Big Boss Troublemaker) is the sole reason for the story. No Darth Vader, who cares if Luke ever leaves Tatooine? No Buffalo Bill, and Special Agent Clarice Starling would be riding an F.B.I. desk doing rookie work.

Alas, the term ‘antagonist’ can be highly confusing. All works have more than one ‘type’ of antagonist. Antagonists can be villains but most are not. What is a scene antagonist? How can allies, love interests and generally well-meaning folks can turn your MC’s world upside down? How can we use antagonists to layer internal AND external conflict?

This class is going to train you to hit your MC from every available angle. Torture the protagonist and torment the reader. Turn up the heat and crank up the tension and…

Make sure the only GOOD stopping place is at the END of your book.

Sunday - 1 1/4 hour Workshops

Teen Themes: What Makes a Novel YA?

Julie Glover

What makes a novel young adult? Is it just the age of the protagonist? It’s so much more! This course will demystify the teen world and help you write believable characters—one your young readers can relate to and root for. Together we’ll explore major YA themes with examples from fabulous teen fiction, helping you see how these themes play out in various subgenres. Learn five keys to crafting a novel solidly in YA, which goes far beyond the age of your main character and into engaging your young reader in their world.

Embracing Your Writing Process—No Matter How Stupid Someone Else Thinks It Is

Julie Glover

Most writers have read a craft book, attended in a workshop, or perused an article that describes The Way to write a novel. But back here in the real world, applying someone else’s techniques to your writing process could actually make your story fall apart. And your hair fall out—yanked from their roots by your own hands. Julie Glover will present a potpourri of writing processes and help you find and embrace the one that works for you. Even if the person next to you could never finish a novel that way. Lean into who you really are and walk away feeling motivated and ready to dive into the process that will produce your best writing.

Show, Don’t Tell: The Three Most Misunderstood Words in a Writer’s Vocabulary

Lori Freeland

“Show, don’t tell” sounds simple, but what do those three words really mean? Fiction writers hear “show, don’t tell” all the time. But why is showing so important? Is it always bad to tell? And how do you know where to show and where to tell, or even when you’re doing it right? In this practical workshop, we’ll take an abstract idea and make it concrete. You’ll have examples to take home and a chance to write some of your own. This is a hands-on, interactive workshop, where we’ll strive to keep you on the edge of your seat. Don’t like to participate? Don’t worry. Lurkers are always welcome.

Dive Deep into Dialogue

Lori Freeland

From punctuation to paragraphing, discover how dialogue can revive or ruin a story.

A backbone for most scenes, dialogue serves multiple purposes in creating character and story arcs. In this workshop, we’ll talk about what dialogue is and isn’t, point out the most common dialogue mistakes, use what’s said out loud to deepen your story, weave in subtext, and learn how to avoid turning character conversations into speed bumps that cause your readers to stumble. We’ll touch on the basics then look at dialogue in a fresh way that will change how your characters interact.


Darynda Jones

Ever been told you’re starting your story in the wrong place? Your opening falls flat? Your characters fail to impress? Every opening needs four components to hook an audience, four elements that are absolutely essential to capture a reader’s attention. To lure her to the next paragraph. The next page. To leave her breathless. Darynda will discuss these elements, give examples from those who have used them successfully, and show you how to take what might seem impossible and conquer it with relative ease. And, let’s face it. Who doesn’t love a little relative ease?

LAUGHING IN THE FACE OF DANGER: The Hows and Whys of Using Humor to Freshen your Prose, Strengthen your Story and Deepen your Characterization. Oh, and hook your reader!

Darynda Jones

Sadly, comedy is very much like romance. It is maligned. It is never taken as seriously as its dramatic counterparts, even though it is much harder to master. That being said, comedy is like jet fuel for your prose. A clever turn of phrase, a single line of dialogue, can accomplish a multitude of goals in one fell swoop. Darynda will tell you how to use humor to captivate your audience and give your story that special allure agents and editors are looking for.

Planning Your Novel in Ten Easy Steps

Janice Hardy

Writing a novel can be a daunting process, but a little planning can go a long way to making that process easier. Even predetermining a few key turning points in the story can keep writers focused, whether they prefer to outline every scene or pick a story direction and write toward it. In this workshop, writers will learn how to create the critical elements of a novel’s plot, how to use goals, conflicts, and stakes to build a story and develop characters, and how to approach a novel in a way that will make it easier to write and be more marketable to agents, editors, and readers.

Revision Readiness: How to Revise

Janice Hardy

Revision is part of writing, but sometimes knowing where to start can be overwhelming. It can be even harder if you need to trim down a large manuscript or change a major storyline. In this workshop, writers will learn how to approach their revisions with a plan, focusing on macro, medium, and micro issues to tighten their novel on a layer by layer basis. They’ll also learn how to mentally approach revisions, and how to strengthen their story from the top down.

The Power of Voice

Susan Donovan

Every Author has one, whether they realize it or not. Every author needs one, though it can’t be forced. And even the most experienced writers may not be able to tell you how they found it. Author voice is the most important, yet elusive, of writing tools. In this workshop, Susan Donovan will untangle the elements of voice and describe her own hit-and-miss journey to authenticity. With writing exercises and quizzes, she’ll help you refine–or find–your unique author voice.

Not a Plotter? Not a Pantser? Maybe You’re a PLONSTER!

Susan Donovan

Susan Donovan had already sold two novels to a major NY publisher when a workshop presenter told her she wasn’t “doing it right” because she didn’t use a plotting spreadsheet.  Huh? It took Susan years to accept that she would never be a detailed plotter but that she needed a roadmap to keep from getting stuck. She calls her method “plonstering” – a bare-bones structure that helps her story take off, cruise, and land, all while leaving plenty of room for winging it.  This workshop will look at:

  • The sweet spot between spontaneity and rigidity
  • Let’s get visual – every story has a shape
  • The ups and downs of storytelling
  • Universal story goalposts
  • Character maps
  • Three basic plot threads in one narrative drive
  • Scene summaries
  • Plotting backwards
  • Tricks to get yourself unstuck

Your Life as Story: Constructing the Truth

Donna Johnson

Whether working on a personal narrative for publication or as a record for our children and grandchildren, our goal as memoirists is to unlock the meaning of the past. Yet too often when we try to record the events of our lives, the enormity of our felt experience begins to slip away. Memoir is not so much about what happened, but how what happened continues to live inside and shape you. In this workshop we will explore how to break open historical facts so that they serve a poetic as well as a literal truth. We will also discuss how to distinguish between the situation and the story and participants will leave with insight into the devices used by memoirists to create richly textured narratives.

Memoir and Family: How to turn difficult people (including your mom) into compelling characters

Donna Johnson

 One of the pitfalls of personal narrative is writing about people, especially those you feel have wronged you. The challenge for the writer becomes how to capture her experience without turning others into caricatures that undermine the reliability of the narrator. This class will explore how the axiom of curiosity over confession helps memoirists turn real people into nuanced characters that add to the richness of the human story.

How to Raise the Stakes (Without Killing Everyone)

Angela Ackerman

Characters, like people, are stubborn. Most prefer the good old comfort zone to facing danger, failure, pain, and worse. (The nerve!) To get resistant characters to act, we must up the ante, removing all choice. So how can we do that without always threatening them with death? Get ready to stuff your mental toolbox with ideas on how to raise the stakes.

Digging Up the past: Understanding the Power of an Emotional Wound

Angela Ackerman

Unresolved emotional trauma is a destructive force that changes a character to the core, dictating their behavior, fears, and worldview. Understanding what backstory wounds are and how they will transform your character is key to plotting their character arc, so join Angela as she unravels their insidious nature.

Your First 5 Pages

Laura Drake

We all know what it’s like to pick up a book and be sucked into the fictional world. You sense that you can trust the author and suspend disbelief to go on a journey. But how do your favorite authors do that?

Laura has tools that will help you glue readers to your book, and keep them turning pages!

Craft Tips to Strengthen Your Writing

Laura Drake

You know the feeling – when you start a book and immediately suspend disbelief to fall into the story world. As authors, we know that this isn’t easy to do. It takes more than a good scene. It takes a maestro of craft to pull it off.

There are subtle nuances that can be the difference between a ‘good writer’ and a popular author. Laura will help you strengthen your writing with a few easy tips.

Stumped? Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

Larry D. Sweazy

Ideas come from everywhere. They are elusive, difficult to manufacture, and are never around when you need them the most. The truth is we really don’t know where ideas come, but experience suggests that the magic happens when you show up. In this workshop, you will explore how research techniques, discipline, everyday choices, and relaxation can introduce you to your ideas. Larry D. Sweazy will guide you through several exercises that will help you light your creative spark on command, and give you some idea-generating skills that will serve you for the rest of your writing life.

The Big Secret: Starting and Finishing Your Novel

Larry D. Sweazy

Here’s the big secret about writing novels: The hardest part of writing a novel is finishing it. Great ideas tire out. Real life gets in the way. Doubt over takes the dream. In this interactive workshop, Larry D. Sweazy will share proven tips and help you to build the skills that you need to finish that special novel. Topics discussed will be time management, building a toolbox, finding support, writing tips, and most importantly living life as writer—even if you’re not published. Come prepared to write in class.

The Perks and Pitfalls of First Person POV

Anne Mateer

Do you have a character begging to take the story into his or her own hands? Telling a story in first person has some distinct advantages for both the reader and the writer. However, it also has some very glaring disadvantages. Together we will discover how to maximize the strengths of the first person POV while recognizing and minimizing the weaknesses. We’ll also discuss the pros and cons of juggling multiple first person POVs in one story. My hope is that you will leave with the tools you need to decide the best POV for your story as well as the courage to perhaps try something new.

Taking Your Reader to Another Era: Crafting Historical Fiction

Anne Mateer

Setting a story in another era comes with its own issues and responsibilities. But how do we use history in our stories? How much is too much? How little is too little? What kind of details are needed? In this workshop, we’ll get an overview of the process of fusing research and imagination, including how to use history to create your characters and plot, how to decide what historical details go into the story, and where to find the research you need so you will be better prepared to transport your readers to another time period.